By Ars Grafik
Another week has passed and it’s time for our second weekly blog stats review. If you’re wondering what all this blog stats review business is about, I recommend reading the first Weekly Blog Stats Review, an introduction to this new series. For the short hand version: this series is an ongoing look at the evolution of this blog using commonly available blogging metrics to gauge our success and struggles.
I wish I could announce that all of our blog tracking metrics are showing marked improvements since last week, but in truth, it’s a mixed bag. As of Friday, most of our snapshot stats are showing slight improvements. The weekly traffic statistics show growth in page views and visits but a noticeable drop in the average time spent on the site. Since the goal of this series is to offer real stats without sugar coating or falsifying, I am going to lay it all out there. Let’s take a look.
Blog Stats as of 07.10.09
PageRank is the most stable statistic I am including in the Weekly Blog Stats Review.
In the past, Google made PageRank updates public on a 3-month cycle. This may be changing; the last PageRank update came much sooner then expected. I don’t recall the exact timeline, but it was closer to 5 weeks than to 3 months. If this new frequency is maintained, we may see another update in close to a month. That being the case, there has been no change in our site’s PageRank since last week.
The front page of Ars Grafik continues to register a PR3. Our early pages continue to register PR4. For more on this mystery, read last week’s Weekly Blog Stats Review.
This week I’m going to provide a quick overview of PageRank as a blog tracking metric:
What is PageRank?
PageRank is a number between 0 and 10 which reflects the rank applied to a webpage using Google’s PageRank algorithm. This number depicts the importance Google applies to the the page in comparison to every other page on the Internet.
At the heart of this algorithm is the concept that each link directed at a page from another site is, in essence, a vote of confidence. If we link to a site from the front page of ,Ars Grafik we are passing on a portion of our PR3 to that site.
The passage of PageRank can be roughly figured by dividing the PageRank by the number of outbound links from the page. It’s important to remember that internal linking also passes PageRank.
Here is an simple (albeit oversimplified) graphic example of PageRank at work:
In the graphic above, you see that our top level site has PR6. It is linking to three sites. Each of those outbound links passes a portion of the available PageRank equal to PR6 ÷ # of links. In this case, we divide PR6 by three outbound links to arrive at the passage of PR3 to each linked-to site.
This accumulation of incoming links and the corresponding passage of PageRank is the way you grow the PR of a blog. It is for this reason that we pay a great deal of attention to the number of incoming links that are registered to Ars Grafik. We will look at incoming link stats later in this post.
Luckily for bloggers, the blogosphere is the perfect arena to create a community where you freely link to others and they link back to you. As the visibility of your blog grows and as other bloggers begin referencing your posts, your PageRank will rise.
At this point, it is important to note that Google’s PageRank equation has evolved over the years. Matt Cutts (an active member of the blog community and the head of Google’s Webspam Team) has stressed this point on many occasions. The examples in this post are only meant to introduce the concept, not depict the current working model.
How to Grow PageRank
Don’t despair if your blog is registering a PR0. It takes time to accumulate enough incoming links to rise to a PR1 and much longer to register PR2/PR3 or beyond.
One great way to inspire others to link to your blog is to offer something free that other bloggers will direct their readers to. For us, graphic design media like texture images, brush packs, or patterns are always big hits with the blogging crowd. Don’t limit you imagination. If you have a skill and can post something of value for free, you will find there are others on the web who will link to your site.
Another possibility is to hold a contest where commentors or e-newsletter subscribers have a chance to win something fun. Many bloggers will direct their readers to your contest page, garnering links to your site. This kind of contest can go viral in a flash, so be ready for traffic!
Last but not least. In fact–most important of all. Publish great content! If you publish interesting content that offers something unique to readers, you will be linked to. Sites like the Huffington Post and TechCrunch are position 1 and 2 on Technorati’s Top 100 Blogs because they publish content that readers love and other bloggers link to. You get the picture.
As of Friday, Ars Grafik’s Technorati rank was 635,062. This is a incremental improvement since last week, but an improvement nonetheless. Another week, I will dig into the nitty gritty of Techorati rank. But for the time being, I will point out that Technorati’s ranking system is also based on incoming links but, unlike Google, it only counts links from other blogs—in fact, it counts only other blogs that are registered with Technorati.
Because Ars Grafik has a reasonable number of incoming links but few registering on Technorati, it leads me to believe that most of our linking sites are younger blogs whose authors have not signed up with Technorati. This makes sense because many of our incoming links are from blogs that are using our free WordPress themes.
As with the Technorati rank, Ars Grafik showed a small improvement in Alexa rank, moving from 163,273 to 143,937.
In the incoming links department, we have a small positive change reflected in Yahoo Site Explorer. Last week we registered 11,713, with growth this week to 11,866.
Google Webmaster Tools continued to show 13,747 incoming links.
RSS & Twitter
RSS subscribers remained steady at 30. Only growth potential here.
This week our twitter account, Shea Media has 329 followers. An increase of nine from the week before.
Weekly Stats: 07.04 – 07.10 2009
Last week, we had 3,806 page views at Ars Grafik. This week we saw that number rise slightly to 3,896. I would point out that the week started on an off note, with only 282 page views on Saturday, the 4th of July. Having such small numbers out of the gate meant the six following days logged substantially increased numbers to make up the difference.
Visits increased slightly this week, bringing the total to 2,564 from 2,414 the week before. Again, I note that Saturday’s numbers were abnormally low at only 157 visits. With numbers this low, any increase over the week feels like a substantial success.
Page Views Per Visit
Pages views per visit remained nearly static at 1.52 pages per visit.
Average Time on Site
It’s when looking at the average time spent on site that things took a notable turn for the worse. Last week, we found visitors averaging 59 seconds on Ars Grafik. This is a substantial drop from the prior week’s 1 min. 8 sec. There are two ways I am looking at this change.
The first is as a mandate to write attention grabbing, useful content that inspires readers to read full articles. Since the average pages per visit remained the same, I am left making the conclusion our readers found this weeks material less enthralling then the prior weeks.
The second notable difference between last weeks traffic and the week prior is a spike last week in StumbleUpon visits. We have found that StumbleUpon, while a wonderful web tool and a great deal of fun, provides the lowest quality traffic of any referrer. The majority of these visitors remain on the site for just moments before moving on. This has a strongly negative effect on the average time on site metric.
Last week, I began a blog networking campaign that included writing a short blog review called Blog Spotlight: Digging Into WordPress. The value of this type of networking is in creating a working relationship with other bloggers who share your blog’s topic. In this case, I enjoyed introducing myself to Jeff Starr, coauthor of Digging into WordPress and author of Perishable Press.
It’s these kinds of relationships that strengthens your position in the blogging community. Always be on the lookout for ways to network and grow your blogging friend group. This will continue to be a top priority here at Ars Grafik. We plan to introduce ourselves to at least one additional blogger this week.